David McKean told The Washington Post that Maeve and Gideon had “popped into a canoe” to go and retrieve a ball that had landed in the water while their family was visiting at her mom’s waterfront property in Shady Side, Maryland.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources police confirmed in a statement that a 40-year-old woman and an 8-year-old boy went missing Thursday afternoon from that same location after they “appeared to be overtaken by the strong winds” while canoeing.
“They just got farther out than they could handle and couldn’t get back in,” David told the Post.
(Reached by PEOPLE, David declined to comment further, saying the available info on the incident had already been reported.)
The DNR police did not identify the missing woman and child but said “the preliminary investigation revealed that the pair may have been paddling the canoe from a residence … out into the bay to retrieve a ball and were unable to paddle back to shore.”
Maeve is the daughter of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who was Maryland’s lieutenant governor from 1995 to 2003.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty From left: Rep. Joe Kennedy III greets Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean greets during a rally in June 2018
At a coronavirus briefing on Friday afternoon, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan confirmed Maeve and Gideon’s disappearance.
“An intensive search has been underway since late yesterday,” he said.
The canoe and a paddle were recovered Thursday night, according to authorities.
Hogan said he had spoken with Meave’s mother on Friday morning “and on behalf of the people of Maryland, I expressed our most heartfelt sympathies.”